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Watch: Derek McGrath's Emotional Speech At Massive Waterford Homecoming

Watch: Derek McGrath's Emotional Speech At Massive Waterford Homecoming
By Michael McCarthy

Derek McGrath is a complete GAA enigma. His style of play as Waterford manager has nearly led to "Hurling People" civil war over the last four years. But tactics aside, McGrath is incredibly likable, a complete gentleman, and one of the most open and honest characters in the game.

As soon as the De La Salle man opens his mouth, you tend to forget any strong feelings you may have had about the Waterford style of play, and instead, you appreciate the incredible achievements of his Waterford team, share in his heartbreak and sadness that the job wasn't finished this year, and share the empathy and love he has for his group of players who gave everything they had for their county this year, and for every year before. McGrath is that kind of character.

Last night, a defeated Waterford team were welcomed home by thousands of Déise fans, and it was an incredible occasion. It says something about this team and the fans of Waterford that so many came out to welcome a beaten team.

The highlight of what was a great night in Waterford was, of course, the speech made by McGrath, the county's spiritual leader. He spoke from the heart as usual, and it's hard to see how these Waterford players and fans won't eventually go one step further with this man at the helm.

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Waterford people are a mirror image of this team. This team are humble in nature, intelligent in what they do, absolutely relentless in trying to nurture and create a spirit for each other. Like the Waterford people.

When the Waterford people face adversity, they fight back, they say, "We're not taking 'no' for an answer", we refuse to give in, we refuse to yield, and we refuse to accept defeat.

At the end of the day, the parallels in terms of our chase, or our absolute obsession with the upgrade of Walsh Park, university status, a cath lab, all the things we've chased as a group are the same things we chase as an absolutely obsessive group of individuals behind me, so long may that continue!

While that's emotional enough, what came next left a crowd of thousands in tears of pride and love for this group of players and their manager.

We've often said over four years, as a group, to each other... We've spoken about the whole pastoral element of what we've tried to do, the whole issue of love, and care, and pride, and building a relentless spirit built on togetherness. Building a TEAM.

Not a team that's from West Waterford. Not a team that's from East Waterford. Not a team that's from De La Salle, Ballygunner, Passage, Ballysaggart, Ballyduff, Lismore. A team that's built and is absolutely centred on being from Waterford - where we're all from. And ultimately that's what it's all about.

So, thanks again, UP THE DÉISE!

Wow. You can watch the speech in full from 3 hours 15 minutes into this epic full homecoming video broadcast by the Waterford City Council.

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